Sunday, March 18, 2012

Last Wayward Galileo Satellite Orbit Corrected

In August of last year, two Galileo satellites were launched and due to a malfunction of the rocket, missed the intended orbit by several thousand miles, leaving the two satellites stranded in incorrect elliptical orbits. This mistake caused quite an uproar and all other Galileo launches for 2014 were cancelled.

At the end of November, one of the two satellites executed a series of maneuvers to move to a more circular, usable orbit and was successful. The satellite is now transmitting usable signals, and the European Space Agency (ESA) has been working towards maneuvering the second wayward satellite to a better, more usable orbit since January 15, 2015.

Now, two months later, the second satellite has finally been successfully relocated to the correct orbit and should start transmitting signals soon. The maneuvers of the second satellite were a bit more complicated than the first and involved changing the mean anomaly of the satellite. However, both satellites should be able to be used by the completed Galileo system (provided the signals of the second satellite still transmit properly).

The Galileo system is being launched by Europe and will be the first commercial satellite navigational system, which will be aimed at not only navigation but also search and rescue. The constellation currently has six satellites in orbit, and will hopefully be completed in 2020, provided there are no further setbacks.

For more information, check out the ESA’s Galileo website.

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